The number of centenarians in Korea is rising rapidly. The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Wednesday released statistics which show that 1,201 people turned 100 this year, up 29 percent from last year's 927.
Gyeonggi Province had the most centenarians with 231, followed by Seoul with 183, North Gyeongsang Province with 95, and South Jeolla Province with 90.
Reflecting the fact that women's life expectancy is seven years longer than men's, 84 percent of those who turned 100 this year were women. The number of centenarians has been steadily increasing.
The number of people who celebrated their 100th birthday has risen by 20 to 300 a year, but the number of people in their late 90s rises by more than 1,000 for every year.
The number of people in their early 90s rises by over 4,000 people for each year. At this rate, Statistics Korea predicts that by 2030 there will be more than 10,000 centenarians, and 20,000 by 2040.
In Japan, the number centenarians surpassed 10,000 in 1998 and 50,000 this year.
One of the most common factors in their longevity is that they do not drink or smoke. Statistics Korea conducted a survey of 1,529 centenarians in 2011 which found that 71 percent were non-smokers, and 69.8 percent did not drink.
But the problem is a rising population of frail and ill people. Some 33.9 percent of centenarians suffer from dementia and many live in nursing homes.